After an offensive explosion in their midweek matchup against Florida International, the Miami Hurricanes remained aware of the fact that a closer contest was in store on Friday night against ACC foe Duke.
The starting pitching performance of junior right-hander Daniel Federman remained unknown, however, as the Canes’ former closer entered with a 1-2 record in 2021.
Freshman right-handed starter Alejandro Rosario suffered a strained oblique prior to the start of the series, and remains day-to-day, according to Miami head coach Gino DiMare.
Federman allowed only one earned run through a season-high six innings, redshirt junior Christian Del Castillo hit his first home run at UM, and Miami (14-8, 8-7 ACC) defeated Duke (11-11, 5-8 ACC) at Mark Light Field to open the weekend series.
“It’s one of those games, we knew with the wind blowing really hard in it was probably going to be this type of game,” DiMare said. “Fly balls were not going to get it done, probably going to be low-scoring with line drives. Of course, the two home runs we hit were line drives and the sac fly we hit a line drive with a man on third there in the first inning. Bottom line is we pitched very well, Federman huge start for us.”
Striking first out of the gates were the Canes, as freshman third baseman Yohandy Morales hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score sophomore second baseman Anthony Vilar.
Federman held Duke scoreless in the early going, meanwhile. Loading the bases in the third inning, the Blue Devils’ outfielder Peter Matt, a Penn transfer, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to leave the runners stranded.
“Just pitching with a little bit more intensity, little bit more emotion,” Federman said. “I’m a fired-up guy, everybody knows that. I mean it all well as competitiveness. But just going out there and being myself, not trying to be somebody else, not saving myself for later in the game. If all I got that day is three or four innings, that’s all I got that day. I needed to go out there and pitch with a little bit more intensity, and I did that today.”
Miami gradually continued to build a lead as the middle innings progressed, as Del Castillo blasted a solo home run into the second level of the Ponce De Leon parking garage stationed above the ballpark’s right field fence.
“It definitely great, especially in that situation because we weren’t scoring so many runs,” Del Castillo said. “It’s a blessing to help the team win and I just want to compete.”
The Seton Hall transfer’s coach did not believe the milestone would change much in terms of his approach, nonetheless.
“I don’t know if it will do anything for him, he plays with a lot of confidence,” DiMare said. “He’s got surprising power, he hit a ball out of the ballpark today in [batting practice] with the wind blowing in … but he’s a line drive guy that hits the ball all over the field as does his brother [Adrian Del Castillo]. Either way, Delly [Christian] has a lot of confidence in himself, he’s been arguably our most clutch player on our offensive team up to this point.”
Answering with a run, its only on the night, Duke’s nine-hole hitter in designated hitter Chase Cheek hit a two-out RBI single up the middle to slice the Miami lead in half 2-1. Federman forced a ground out to retire the top of the fifth frame, while the Blue Devils left two men on base once again.
Having faced just three batters in the sixth inning, Federman struck out two and threw a lineout to center field. The veteran arm handed the ball off to sophomore right-handed reliever Anthony Arguelles, who allowed no hits or runs through one inning of work.
Closer Carson Palmquist finished the job having struck out the final three batters of the night, while separating himself with a conference-best eight saves.
“It’s amazing, I try to think of [closers] that have come through here and dominated the way he has,” DiMare said. “I don’t know if I can recall, we’ve had a few guys back in the day they came in and it was over, they were that good. But not many, I don’t know if they’ve done it like him and he’s doing it really with one pitch. I told him the other day, his off-speed stuff I mean, he’s dominating with the fastball. Imagine if he gets his off-speed working in which he tried to throw a few more today, but he’s got to get better command of it, no doubt. But you’ve got to go with what works.”
Miami looks to win its fourth ACC series on the season on Saturday, while attempting to rise in the Coastal Division standings.
“A big part of being a good team you’ve got to have guys to step up,” DiMare said. “Federman was the perfect guy to that, he’s a veteran guy and it was huge. Stepping up for our number one guy on a Friday and to do what he did was outstanding.”
Freshman right-handed starter Victor Mederos (0-2, 5.1 ERA) will take the mound against Duke right-hander Henry Williams at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.